The Netflix Series Thirteen Reasons Why seems to have captured the attention of teenagers, young adults and many that have any influence on this population. I’ve seen and heard various opinions about it. The opinions ranged from forbidding our youth to watch it to every teenager should watch it. My 16-year-old daughter brought it to my attention after she already watched the entire series and she told me I should definitely view it. She obviously had an opinion because this series definitely is meant to have an effect on us. She didn’t seem overly freaked out about it, but to be on the safe side, I felt obligated to view it. Hopefully this review is helpful to some of you make a decision.
The main character of this series, Hannah, tapes herself on thirteen different tapes about why she eventually took her own life. Every tape is dedicated to a specific person that she believes could have stopped her. Thirteen different people are blamed and basically are guilt ridden after listening to “their tape”. Hannah instructs each person she blames to listen to the entire series and then pass the tapes on. The tapes include lies, betrayals, mixed messages, rapes, wild parties, car accidents, drugs, sex and suicides. It seems to portray just about every serious and common problem a teenager might encounter and portrays the potential consequences. Everyone is affected directly or indirectly.
Let me be clear that rape is a crime that should be reported and punished. It is completely unacceptable. I don’t think any crime should be downplayed and that it not my intention. Suicide is also completely devastating. I don’t believe it’s uncommon at all for many who knew the suicide victim to feel a bit guilty. I think any decent person would question if they could have said or done anything that might have made a difference and prevented the suicide. A kind word, some encouragement or a simple smile can change a person’s day and possibly even their life. Do we ever really know exactly what it going on inside someone else’s head?
Hannah is clearly trying to say that many different people could have prevented her suicide. I think we can all nod and say that sometimes that could be the case, but not always. I found myself feeling like Hannah was being kind of unfair to all these people. I agree that we can do better to prevent these occurrences, but I feel a couple of things were not mentioned or emphasized. If we want to prevent more of these instances, we can’t ignore teaching personal responsibility. Both rapes in this series could have been prevented. Let’s teach our daughters that it isn’t a good idea to strip down to your underwear and get into a hot tub at a party with a group of teenagers! It’s certainly not smart to hang out alone with a guy that you barely know, that has been drinking, with or without your clothes on! Teaching and practicing common sense was clearly not a priority in the entire series.
I think we now live in an overly sexualized, Godless, self-centered, social-media-ruled society that produces some clueless, heartless people that don’t understand boundaries and can’t communicate. This can and does lead to crummy friendships and relationships, mixed messages, and/or serious crimes and consequences. Schools give out condoms and parents put their daughters on birth control in high school. Some parents nowadays permit co-ed sleepovers and underage drinking in their own homes with their knowledge. When we openly permit stuff like that, what do we honestly think might happen without our knowledge? Isn’t it simply human nature to “push the limits”? Why do we keep sending these mixed messages and then wonder how bad things happen?
At the end of this dramatization, I think we all can agree that we can and have to do better. How about let’s teach our kids once again to be modest and to wait for marriage to experience sex? This might be a way to help clarify the mixed messages? How about telling our kids to leave parties that are getting out of control? How about telling our sons and daughters to not get themselves into situations where they are alone with somebody they barely know? How about teaching our kids once again that they are never alone? There is actually a living God that loves every one of them unconditionally and He is with them always? Let’s teach them how to choose better friends. How about teaching our kids to take care of themselves and to make better choices?
Ultimately, Hannah took her own life. Others might have been able to offer a kind word or two, but that might not have even stopped her. There were so many different factors that could have caused her to end her life. Let’s teach our kids that there is always a better way.
We all want unconditional love and that love is truly found in Christ alone. Every human at some time is unreliable. Isn’t that a great sound, message worth articulating? Pray for and look out for each other.
Image: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53659572